Analog Guy in a Digital World

Mother and I were behind a pickup truck at the stop sign at Old Cape Road and South Shawnee Blvd., when I happened to look through his rear window.

Perched on his dash was a huge clock with figurines on each side. This was truly an analog guy trapped in a digital world.

When I clicked on the image to make it larger, his clock appears to be showing about 4:47 p.m. The time stamp on the photo says 3:31 p.m. My camera was still sitting on Eastern Time, not Central Time. Bottom line: neither one of us had a clue about what time it was.

Repairing a grandfather’s clock

Reminds me of the old joke about the guy who needed to take his grandfather’s clock to the jeweler for repair. It was too big for his car, but the jeweler was only a block away, so he decided he’d carry it. That went fine for about 30 feet, but the clock was heavier than he had anticipated.

It got so that the distance he could move it grew shorter and shorter. He would stagger 25, then 20, then 15 feet before he had to set the clock down. Before long, 10 feet was the best he could do. Pick it up, stagger 10 feet, set it down, gaze at it until he gathered his strength, look down the block to the jeweler, repeat.

Finally, a little boy walked up to him and said, “Mister, you DO know that they make clocks you can wear on your wrist, don’t you?”

Can kids even tell time with watches with hands these days?

When Pet Rocks Grow Up

Were you one of the folks who bought a Pet Rock in 1975?

You don’t know what a Pet Rock is? Here’s a 70s website that will fill you in on the history of the Pet Rock (the comments are actually better than the original story).

To the road-building Steinhoff family, rocks were something you blasted out, dug up or crushed.

Gary Dahl had a better, more profitable idea. He bought three tons of stone from Rosarita Beach in Baja, Mexico, and created over a million pet rocks that sold for $3.95 each.

(Click on any photo to make it large enough for you to see if one of your Pet Rocks is here.)

Pet Rocks and puppies start out cute

You know how cuddly kittens and puppies are? Well, Pet Rocks started out that way, but quickly grew out of control. Some were turned loose in the country to fend for themselves; some slipped away from their owners; others, thought dead, were unceremoniously flushed or buried in coffee cans in the back yard. Most of those seemingly dead rocks were really still alive: their slow metabolism had fooled their owners.

Before long, these rogue rocks were getting large enough to be noticed, just like the poodle-poaching pythons in South Florida.

Environmentalists were concerned that the Rosarita Beach stones, without natural predators, could upset the balance of nature.

Privatizing Pet Rock control

The better behaved Pet Rocks were rounded up, given wooden beds to sleep on and were allowed to become free range rocks under close supervision.

Local governments, not wanting to have to build and staff rock shelters, turned to private enterprise and companies like Lotus Naturescapes to round up, domesticate and find homes for the aging Pet Rocks. This particular no-kill shelter is located in Ware, Ill., at the intersection of  Ill 3 and Hwy 146 West, not too far from Cape Girardeau.

Rock ‘n Roll takes its toll

Some Pet Rocks have seen some tough times, as evidenced by the wrinkles on this one. Rock and roll will take its toll.

Some Pet Rock are well-behaved

The rocks in the background have learned the STAY command. The ones in the foreground weren’t as well-trained. They still have have to be restrained.

Nocturnal Meanderings

Some of the rocks get up and meander around when nobody’s looking, but they’re not all that smart. Everybody knows that moss grows on the north side. This rock has shifted until his (her?) moss was facing nearly due south. He (she?) has a rather smug expression, but the folks at Lotus Naturescapes know what’s going on.

[It will come as no surprise to you that I didn’t actually check my facts with anyone at Lotus Naturescapes. Why spoil a good story?]



Missouri Multitasking

Homemade cuspidor mounted chin-high in restroom in Advance, Mo, McDonald’s.

The manager gave his customers credit for the ability to handle two tasks at once, but he must not have trusted their aim. That level of confidence should give some comfort to the deer at the start of hunting season.

Radioactive Teenage Girls

When I first ran across the photos of this giggle of girls in front of the Arena Building, I thought they might be refugees from some kind of band camp. One girl is strumming on a guitar, there’s at least one other guitar case there, and another girl has what appears to be a ukulele under her arm.

Ouija Boards and sleeping bags

Then I noticed a Careers board game, a Ouija Board, sleeping bags, canteens and other camping paraphernalia.

Is this a Girl Scout campout?

If it is, they certainly don’t travel light. They appear to be a thirsty bunch, too. I see canteens of various shapes, thermos bottles, an insulated jug and a pitcher. Those square boxes look like they might contain beauty aids. Or ham sandwiches.

Headed INTO the Arena Building

They weren’t meeting in front of the Arena Building to go somewhere, they were headed INTO the building. That’s interesting. If you have really sharp eyes, you can see a Civil Defense triangle on a box on the table at the top of the stairs. Maybe that’ll provide a clue to what’s going on.

What is that on her head?

There is some kind of signing up going on here. I covered lots of Boy and Girl Scout events, but I don’t every recall running into the ceremonial or protective headgear the girl at the table is wearing.

Elaborate forms to fill out

The forms these girls are holding look more formidable than the ones we face on April 15 every year. What ARE they up to?

Civil Defense and National Security

Then, I finally found the two frames that made it all clear. Notice the small box with the Civil Defense triangle on it the man is holding? It’s a Geiger Counter.

You have to remember that this was at the confluence of The Red Scare and the Dawn of Rock and Roll, you know, Devil’s Music.

The girls were suspected of being Radio Active

Some busybody neighbor must have heard these girls listening to rock n roll on the radio and passed the word to the local Civil Defense office. The message got garbled at each stage along the way until it finally read, “Scores of teenage girls in Cape Girardeau are radioactive.”

The next thing you know, buses were dispatched to snatch the girls and quarantine them in the Arena Building until they could be screened with Geiger Counters.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to until someone can come up with a better one.